Chair of the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC), Ricardo Adams says the Soca and Ragga Soca Monarch competitions will be “very energetic and exciting”.
This despite the fact that a number of the more seasoned artistes have boycotted this year’s competitions amidst a demand for higher appearance fees and prize monies, which the CDC says it cannot afford.
The more-well-known acts are staying out of the competition one year after the record low attendance at the 2022 show.
Further, this year, the two categories of the competition will be held separately as had been the case a number of years ago.
“From all reports, we’re going to have a very energetic and exciting Soca Monarch and Ragga Soca Monarch this year,” Adams told a CDC press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday.
“… all in all, we expect that we will have a fantastic Vincymas,” he said, adding that there will be more “eyes on the festival” with the CDC and Tourism Authority partnering to bring social media influencers to SVG for the festival.
“So, it says that Vincymas, the name Vincymas, the product Vincymas, the energy of Vincymas is now something that people are really interested in focusing on,” Adams said.
“And we always say at the end of it, it’s for all of us to come together and really push this product, push this thing that is us. It is our culture. It is our energy, it is the warmth of all the people that we need to be pushing out there,” he said.
The CDC chair said the rural festivals have been safe so far.
“And that sets the stage for what generally happens with Vincymas because we know we sell it as an intimate high-energy and very safe carnival,” said Adams, who also reminded the public of the no-glass-bottle policy that is in effect during the festival.
He noted that soca monarch competitions have been taking place as part of the rural festivals, adding that CDC has always said that rural carnivals should be more than a wet fete, j’ouvert and street jump up.
Adams pointed out that the main festival kicks off Friday evening, when 22 calypsonians will be among the 11 to challenge defending monarch, Maxwell “Tahoe” Francis, during Dimanche Gras on July 9.
“I think one of the things that is of note is the number of ladies and the number of youngsters who have made it into the semi-finals. And there’s a wide variety of songs,” Adams said.
Nine females are among the semi-finalists and Adams said it is going to be one of the more exciting semi-finals in a while.
Junior Carnival takes place on Saturday, followed by Junior Pan on Sunday.
“We’re not quite where we used to be in terms of the junior pan but we’ve actually seen a rebuilding this year compared to where we were so again, we’re looking forward to exciting things.”
As regards Junior Soca and Junior Calypso monarch, which takes place on Tuesday, Adams pointed out that this year, a number of bards who are in the Junior Calypso competition, appeared in the calypso tents and are competing at the senior level.
Omani Cupid, who is competing in the junior calypso competition, has made it to the finals of the national competition.
“So that speaks well to where our culture is in terms of the longevity and the continuity of it. And of course, when we get to the Junior Soca Monarch, we know we have all the energy from the youngsters and so we are really looking forward to having an exciting event again this year.”
Steel and Glitter, which was among the competitions not held last year, when Vincymas returned for the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic, returns this year. Sections from the Band also returns this year.
“So, we were looking forward to an exciting Steel and Glitter — an intense Steel and Glitter this year,” Adams said.
This year, Evo, which is slated for July 7, will be twinned with the Ragga Soca competition as the CDC attempts to shorten the Soca Monarch show.
“… people have expressed dissatisfaction with having to leave Victoria Park while church is going on Sunday morning,” Adams said.
He explained the rationale behind twinning the shows:
“… we say that ragga soca is our music. We claim ragga soca as Vincy music, and Evo is about the evolution of Vincy music over the last 40 something years. So, we think that that’s a good coupling…”
Regarding the power soca competition on July 8, Adams said:
“I don’t think anybody still questions that we’ve had a number of young, exciting artistes emerging this year. And we anticipate that Victoria Park is gonna still be full of all the energy, just taking a shorter time this year.”
Meanwhile, Adams noted that King and Queen of the Bands returns to the Dimanche Gras show this year.
This will be followed by J’ouvert, which Adams said is some people’s favourite carnival show.
“… and we’ve had a refocus this year on the traditional aspects of J’ouvert. So expect to see some of your monkey band and boozi back and those back on the road for Vincymas this year, along with paint bands, and all the excitement, the traditional satirical J’ouvert presentations, etc. “
He said that whereas there were only two t-shirt bands for Carnival Monday last year, this year, there will be up to seven.
Admas further noted the return of the band Touch, with live music.
“So, it promises to be a very exciting Monday afternoon session.”
He said some masquerade bands have said that their costumes are sold out.
“Not only the fancy costume bands, but some of the traditional bands are also doing very well where costume sales are concerned this year, and that that augurs well for the Vincymas product because we always say Vincymas is where you can come and you can run the entire gamut of the hardcore traditional bands all the way to the ultra-fancy bands. And so, we are looking forward to an exciting Festival this year,” Adams said.